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Awais M.,Solar Energy Conversion Strategic Research Cluster | Awais M.,COMSATS Institute of Information Technology | Dowling D.D.,Solar Energy Conversion Strategic Research Cluster | Dowling D.D.,University College Dublin | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Applied Electrochemistry | Year: 2013

Spray deposition followed by sintering of nickel oxide (NiO x ) nanoparticles (average diameter: 40 nm) has been chosen as method of deposition of mesoporous NiO x coatings onto indium tin oxide (ITO) substrates. This procedure allows the scalable preparation of NiO x samples with large surface area (~103 times the geometrical area) and its potential for applications such as electrocatalysis or electrochemical solar energy conversion, which require high electroactivity in confined systems. The potential of these NiO x films as semiconducting cathodes for dye-sensitized solar cell (DSC) purposes has been evaluated for 0.3-3-μm-thick films of NiO x sensitized with erythrosine B (ERY). The electrochemical processes involving the NiO x coatings in the pristine and sensitized states were examined and indicated surface confinement as demonstrated by the linear dependence of the current densities with the scan rate of the cyclic voltammetry. Cathodic polarization of NiO x on ITO can also lead to the irreversible reduction of the underlying ITO substrate because of the mesoporous nature of the sintered NiO x film that allows the shunting of ITO to the electrolyte. ITO-based reduction processes alter irreversibly the properties of charge transfer through the ITO/NiO x interface and limit the range of potential to NiO x coatings sintered for DSC purposes. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Awais M.,Solar Energy Conversion Strategic Research Cluster | Awais M.,Gulf | Dini D.,Solar Energy Conversion Strategic Research Cluster | Dini D.,University of Rome La Sapienza | And 3 more authors.
Journal of the Chemical Society of Pakistan | Year: 2016

This paper compares the photoelectrochemical performances of nickel oxide (NiO) thin films processed using two different sintering procedures: rapid discharge sintering (RDS) and conventional furnace sintering (CS). Prior to sintering, NiO nanoparticles were sprayed onto substrates to form loosely adherent nanoparticulate coatings. After RDS and furnace sintering the resultant NiO coatings were sensitized with erythrosine B dye and corresponding p-type dyesensitized solar cells were fabricated and characterized. NiO electrodes fabricated using the RDS technique exhibited a fourfold enhancement in electroactivity compared to CS electrodes. A possible explanation is the smaller sintered grain size and more open mesoporous structure achieved using the microwave plasma treatments.


Awais M.,Solar Energy Conversion Strategic Research Cluster | Awais M.,University College Dublin | Awais M.,COMSATS Institute of Information Technology | Dini D.,Solar Energy Conversion Strategic Research Cluster | And 8 more authors.
Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry | Year: 2013

In this contribution a novel powder coating processing technique (microblasting) for the fabrication of nickel oxide (NiOx) coatings is reported. ∼1.2 μm thick NiOx coatings are deposited at 20 mm2 s-1 by the bombardment of the NiOx powder onto a Ni sheet using an air jet at a speed of more than 180 m s-1. Microblast deposited NiOx coatings can be prepared at a high processing rate, do not need further thermal treatment. Therefore, this scalable method is time and energy efficient. The mechano-chemical bonding between the powder particles and substrate results in the formation of strongly adherent NiOx coatings. Microstructural analyses were carried out using SEM, the chemical composition and coatings orientation were determined by XPS and XRD, respectively. The electroactivity of the microblast deposited NiO x coatings was compared with that of NiOx coatings obtained by sintering NiOx nanoparticles previously sprayed onto Ni sheets. In the absence of a redox mediator in the electrolyte, the reduction current of microblast deposited NiOx coatings, when analyzed in anhydrous environment, was two times larger than that produced by higher porosity NiOx nanoparticles coatings of the same thickness obtained through spray coating followed by sintering. Under analogous experimental conditions thin layers of NiOx obtained by using the sol-gel method, ultrasonic spray- and electro-deposition show generally lower current density with respect to microblast samples of the same thickness. The electrochemical reduction of NiOx coatings is controlled by the bulk characteristics of the oxide and the relatively ordered structure of microblast NiOx coatings with respect to sintered NiOx nanoparticles here considered, is expected to increase the electron mobility and ionic charge diffusion lengths in the microblast samples. Finally, the increased level of adhesion of the microblast film on the metallic substrate affords a good electrical contact at the metal/metal oxide interface, and constitutes another reason in support of the choice of microblast as low-cost and scalable deposition method for oxide layers to be employed in electrochemical applications. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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